Max Verstappen took his third pole position of the season and his first at the Red Bull Ring, grabbing top spot on the grid for tomorrow’s Styrian Grand Prix by tenths of a second from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
And with Bottas set to take a three-place grid drop for a spin in the pit lane on Friday the front row will once again feature the top two in the battle in the battle for the Formula 1 Driver’s title with Hamilton set to line up on the front row alongside standings leader Verstappen.
In Q1 Verstappen was quickly out of the blocks and the Dutchman jumped to top spot with his first flying lap of 1:04.489. Bottas slotted into second place just half a tenth behind, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was third ahead of Hamilton.
After a cool down lap, Verastappen made a second attempt but he failed to find an improvement. By contrast the Dutchman’s team-mate Sergio Pérez set an opening time of 1:05.359 but then only managed to improve by two tenths on his second attempt, so while the top four remained in the garage for the final runs, Pérez was sent out again on a fresh set of soft tyres.
As the final lap times came in, the Mexican slid to 15th, one place above the elimination zone. However, his final effort was a good one and his 1:04.608 vaulted him to fifth and safety just behind AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda and ahead of Hamilton.
There was no escape for Esteban Ocon, however. The Frenchman’s final flying lap jumped him to P11 but as other times came in he dropped down the order and he was a surprise elimination in P17. Also ruled out after the first segment were Williams’ Nicholas Latifi in P16 with Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Räikkönen in P18 followed by the Haas cars of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Verstappen was again to the fore in the second segment, using medium tyres to work his way to 1:04.433 across a single run featuring two flying laps. That put him in P1 ahead of Pérez.
AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly then put in a good lap on softs to dislodge Max from top spot as Norris bumped Pérez to fourth place, which became fifth as Bottas vaulted from ninth place to P3 behind Versatppen.
Everyone bar Gasly opted to make a final run and Pérez found a good improvement to take top spot with a lap of 1:04.197 ahead of Norris and Gasly. Verstappen progressed in fourth after backing out of his final lap, with Bottas in fifth ahead of Hamilton.
Eliminated after the second segment were Williams’ George Russel in P11 ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.
Hamilton was first across the line in Q3 as he ran to a plan for three final-session flying laps and he established an early target of 1:04.205.
Verstappen powered past that with opening lap, however, setting a time of 1:04.841. Hamilton then made a second attempt and found time but he only managed to reach 1:04.067 and when Hamilton failed to improve on his final run and Bottas could only find enough time to nudge his team-mate out to third place, Verstappen’s third pole of the season was sealed.
Pérez put in a good final flying lap to improve to 1:04.168. But Norris also found time in the final moments of the session and he managed to beat the Mexican to fourth place by 0.048s. However, with Bottas dropping to fifth Pérez is set to start from the rear of row two.
Behind the top five Pierry Gasly took an excellent sixth place for AlphaTauri ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll. Tsunoda was later handed a three-place grid penalty for blocking Bottas during Q3 and will start 11th.
2021 FIA Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix – Qualifying
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:03.841
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:04.067 0.226
3 Lando Norris McLaren 1:04.120 0.279
4 Sergio Perez Red Bull Racing 1:04.168 0.327
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:04.035 0.194
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri 1:04.236 0.395
7 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 1:04.472 0.631
8 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri 1:04.514 0.673
9 Fernando Alonso Alpine 1:04.574 0.733
10 Lance Stroll Aston Martin 1:04.708 0.867
11 George Russell Williams 1:04.671 0.830
12 Carlos Sainz Ferrari 1:04.800 0.959
13 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren 1:04.808 0.967
14 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin 1:04.875 1.034
15 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo 1:04.913 1.072
16 Nicholas Latifi Williams 1:05.175 1.334
17 Esteban Ocon Alpine 1:05.217 1.376
18 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo 1:05.429 1.588
19 Mick Schumacher Haas 1:06.041 2.200
20 Nikita Mazepin Haas 1:06.192 2.351